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Photonfocus FPGA-powered QuadRate technology pumps video cameras’ high frame rate (400Mbytes/sec) over GigE

by Xilinx Employee ‎04-29-2016 08:23 AM - edited ‎04-29-2016 09:21 AM (53,555 Views)


Photonfocus has just introduced three compact GigE video cameras capable of pumping as much as 400Mbytes/sec of video over a standard GigE interface using real-time 4:1 video compression. The three Quad Rate QR1-D2048x1088(I/C)-G2 cameras are all based on the CMOSIS CMV2000 CMOS image sensor, which is optimized for low light conditions.  The three camera models image in black and white, NIR (near IR), and color respectively.



Photonfocus QuadRate Video Camera.jpg



Photonfocus QuadRate Video Camera based on a Xilinx Spartan-6 FPGA




The cameras have a variable frame resolution and can achieve the following frame rates at the stated frame resolutions:



Resolution    Frame rate [fps]

2040 x 1088         169

1024 x 1024         358

800 x 600             606

640 x 480             754



Applications such as motion analysis (bionics, sports, and biomechanical analysis), process failure analysis (burst or fracture of tools, failure of handling systems, breakdown of packaging systems), and machine vision all require high frame rates. Today, the preferred camera interface for such applications is GigE due to its standardization and long transmission distance abilities. In addition, multiple camera systems are easily set-up using GigE networking. However, there’s ultimately a bandwidth problem when networking multiple high-speed video cameras over a GigE connection.


Initially, Photonfocus developed DoubleRate video-compression technology to transmit more video frames through standard GigE pipes. The technology proved popular and the company’s customers asked for even higher compression rates at high image quality to accommodate even faster frame rates. The result: Photonfocus’ QuadRate compression technology delivers real-time 4:1 video compression without dropped frames while maintaining 100% compatibility with the GigEVision and GenICam standards.


The electronics that implements this sort of compression must fit within the camera and you cannot get this sort of compression performance using a processor that will fit in the power and volume envelope of a small device like one of the Photonfocus cameras, which measure 55x55x55.7mm (not including lens mount or lens. Consequently, these cameras, like many previous camera models from Photonfocus, rely on an integrated Xilinx Spartan-6 FPGA to implement a variety of functions including the QuadRate 4:1 real-time video compression. Photonfocus has leveraged the flexibility of FPGA-based hardware platforms to develop multiple product lines.


There are again three key system-design lessons embedded this latest product announcement by Photonfocus:



  • By incorporating an FPGA into the design of its cameras, Photonfocus is able to add significant and competitive new capabilities to its products—much valued and demanded by its customers—on an ongoing basis and without BOM changes or a pc-board redesign. This is a hallmark of FPGA-based system platform design. Your design team has options long after the design is done—valuable options that keep your product in the game over an extended product lifetime. This latest Photonfocus announcement proves the point once more.


  • Photonfocus introduced two hyperspectral GigE video cameras in June, 2015 also based on the Xilinx Spartan-6 FPGA. The image sensors in these hyperspectral cameras and in the Photonfocus 3D03 and 3D04 laser-line-scanning cameras introduced in October, 2015 are significantly different than the visible and NIR CMOSIS sensor and place different requirements on the cameras’ imaging subsystems. FPGA-based design allows you to develop very flexible hardware system platforms that can handle widely varying requirements, from which you can spin numerous related products with only incremental development costs—as Photonfocus has done for its cameras.


  • The Spartan-6 FPGA family is now more than half a decade old yet it continues to develop real value as a workhorse platform technology—a cost-effective one—for many, many new video and vision applications including the ever-expanding line of innovative video cameras from Photonfocus.



For additional information about Photonfocus video cameras, see: